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WE’RE hitting the road north for the first meeting at Musselburgh, where they’re putting on record prize money this season of more than £1million for the first time - including £100,000 for the bet365 Edinburgh National, which is a tremendous boost.

Today’s seven-race kicks off with a 3m handicap hurdle for conditional jockeys at 12.35, in which we run two - FIRTH OF FORTH (Tom Midgley) and AAZZA (Ciaran O’Shea). Both of them have had multiple entries in recent weeks as we’ve tried to get them going for the season, but for one reason or another things haven’t quite worked out. That’s not ideal because you seem to be constantly winding them up to run and then having to let them back down again. So it’s not been the most straightforward path to their first race back.

The ground is good-to-soft up in Scotland, but hopefully they get a shower or two before racing just to stop it drying out any more, as I wouldn’t want good ground for them around a sharp track like Musselburgh. Time will tell how they take to it, but both horses seem in good order.

AAZZA had a good season last time around, winning by 20 lengths at Doncaster but going up 13lb in the weights for doing so! Although I thought her best run was her penultimate one at Carlisle in April, when she was beaten only half-a-length by Shoeshine Boy off just 1lb lower than she returns off today. She’s a really fun horse, so genuine, and hopefully she’ll give young Ciaran O’Shea a good spin here.

FIRTH OF FORTH finished last season with a really good run when he was second at Kelso in May. We were delighted with that as both of his previous runs were disappointing. Hopefully he can pick up where he left off and run a nice first run of the season.

Our other runner on the card is OKAVANGO DELTA (2.15), who has his first over fences in the 2m handicap chase in which he’s also got top-weight. Here he is above and below (second horse) during a recent schooling session at home which went really well.

To be honest, two miles around here might just be too sharp for him, but it’s kind of a case of needs-must as we’ve been looking for better ground. We’ve tidied up his wind since his last run over hurdles at Perth back in April because he had a trapped epiglottis. That’s usually quite a successful procedure, so hopefully he’ll derive a positive benefit from that. Two-and-a-half miles would be a better trip for him, but it will be good to get the experience into him.


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